28 March 2010

Itsu's Shave Ice in Hilo

Kea's dad drove us down by Pahoa, Kea'au side. On the drive back, I was craving shave ice. I figured Hilo must have and Kea's dad took us to Itsu's. And I had my proof that they really do call it Ice Shave in Hilo. Kea never heard of this. Never had shave ice in Waimea before I guess.

Anyway, there was a sign saying they had been cited Best Shave Ice in Hilo. Promising. And it lived up to its name! Service was a little slow since it was one lady taking the money, doing the ice, the ice cream and azuki, and the syrup. Not like Matsumoto's and Aoki's where they have assembly line. They had a good selection of syrups though. I ordered lilikoi and--I can't remember the other flavor, but I remember they had lychee too. I was eyeing that one but the lady said only can make two flavors! I dunno why. Maybe she's not good at fractions. Anyway, two flavors was good though. Was so refreshing!

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rubio/76722841/

Pakini Grill in Waimea

There's this spot in Waimea that has shuffled through at least three owners in the past seven years or so (since I started going to the Big Island with Kea). We went once when it was Koa Grill and it was awful--although to be fair, we probably ordered the wrong thing. Anyway, it's been operating as Pakini Grill for at least a year or two. And it has the cutest owl logo as you can see. (To be honest, this alone piqued my interest...)

We never checked it out. Not sure why. I guess we are usually eating my mother-in-law's home-cooking so we don't go out too much. We ended up meeting Kea's high school classmate and his wife there for lunch though.

He recommended the fish and chips and they were great. Kind of heavy on the batter but the batter had such good flavor that I didn't mind. It had an herb that reminds me of Thanksgiving turkey. It came with four huge pieces; I gave one to Kea. Also came with a huge pile of crispy french fries and a nice herby remoulade.

Kea ordered the hamburger steak and his classmate ordered the roast pork. Big portions all around and they said their food was good too. I tried the char siu red potato salad and loved it. I guess it's one of those newer twists on potato salad--lighter on the mayo and with more flavor. I am a fan of this trend!

Kea's classmate also ordered a Tahitian lemonade. I think it was kind of like a milkshake, but maybe not as thick. He said it had coconut flavor too. I so want to try it next time!

Image credit: http://www.urbanspoon.com/u/menu/1449536?p=0

18 March 2010

Chicken with Artichokes

I adapted this recipe for dinner tonight and it turned out great. I couldn't find frozen artichokes so I used the marinated ones from Costco. Rather than jarred peppers, I used these ones my dad grows. I'm not sure what they are called, but they are small and occasionally hot. I guess it's either the younger or older ones that are hot but we tend to get surprised. They have a really strong pepper flavor the way green bell peppers do, so Kea doesn't like them much, but I sliced them up thin and he loved it. Since the artichokes were marinated I chose to put them into the sauce rather than into the orzo.

I also used skinless chicken and again it was fine. The cooking time for chicken on this recipe is perfect, but I did the orzo for about 10 minutes (because I didn't read directions carefully...). Came out good though; I think the orzo would've been underdone if I followed the directions in the recipe.

Lastly, I subbed 1/2 t. cider vinegar and 1/2 c. chicken broth for the wine just because we didn't have any. Learned this tip from some site and it worked great!

This recipe is definitely a keeper!

Himalayan Kitchen in Honolulu

K is in town and we were agonizing over where to get together. We were determined to avoid downtown because of St. Patrick's Day and were hoping for somewhere kid-friendly. We ended up at Himalayan Kitchen, courtesy of J's lovely suggestion.

We ended up sitting in their outdoor area, which was perfect as the kids could run around without bothering other patrons and also away from the street. The host was worried that it might rain and made contingency plans for us, but it looked like they were working on getting some kind of covering set up for the future too which would eliminate that problem.

The staff were also very accommodating of and friendly with the kids. They talked to them and brought them complimentary dessert too. (Unfortunately, I'm not sure if the dessert would appeal to picky kids. Even as an adult, I found it a bit unusual. It was like a rice pudding with herbs and other flavoring in it. I'm not sure if I liked it or not.) The staff were also patient with us even though some of our party was late. Of course we helped a bit by ordering some appetizers to start but they didn't rush us in any way. This may be partly because they were not too crowded, but I still see that as a plus. Honolulu restaurants can be very crowded and it was great to be able to have a good meal and talk a bit without feeling rushed.

Himalayan Kitchen was different than other Indian restaurants, which seem to encourage more family-style dining. Entrees came on a big plate with rice, a bowl of curry, and a small salad of lettuce and tomatoes. I think you could still easily eat family-style, but it seems tailored more for each person to order their own--just in how it looks I guess.

I ordered the eggplant mild; I'd try medium next time. We were all scared because J said her medium last time was super hot, but this time the mild was super mild. The eggplant was not the best I've had, but it might be because it was mild. I also tried a bite of J's chicken tikka masala, which was great. So rich. I think I liked it better than my own dish, but I think I might still experiment with other items on the menu first. The salad that accompanied all the entrees was nothing special, but I am always glad to have extra veggies.

We also ordered garlic naan and a spinach dip that came with some type of fried bread. The garlic naan was not as garlicky as I would've liked, but it came with a dip that I loved. I've had it at Indian restaurants before but am not sure what it's called. It's green and herb-y, a little spicy, and citrus-y, as J pointed out. The spinach dip and fried bread were so good! Sort of like Indian pizza!

Overall: The food was not the best I've had, but I'd like to return and try other dishes, especially because the staff was so friendly and accommodating.

Prices: Comparable to other Indian restaurants (e.g. $14 for chicken tikka masala, $13 for eggplant entree, $4 for garlic naan)